Positive Uses of Technology Should Not Be Stymied by Government Misuse

By at 25 February, 2020, 12:37 pm

By Karen Kerrigan-

Technological innovation is critical to enabling entrepreneurship and helping small businesses compete and grow. For example, the platform-based economy is boosting productivity, creating greater efficiencies, improving market access and customer communications, and providing new tools to hire, manage and retain workers.

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses are already benefitting from technological advancements in such areas as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR). And small businesses across all sectors will gain more deeply and more broadly from these technologies once 5G is fully deployed across the United States.

Facial recognition technology is an emerging tool that has valuable commercial applications for small businesses as well. Therefore, policies and actions across all levels of government must be thoughtful and smart in terms of protecting privacy, limiting abuses and fostering its effective uses.

That is why SBE Council is pleased to see bipartisan collaboration on legislation to address this important issue. S. 2878, the “Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act of 2019,” introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), would get ahead of potential misuse of this technology by requiring federal law enforcement officials to obtain a court order before using facial recognition technology to conduct targeted ongoing public surveillance. In essence, the bill places boundaries on government when it comes to surveilling or spying on American citizens, which is important not only in terms of individual liberties, but also to encourage future commercial applications.

As noted by Senator Coons in a press release announcing the legislation in late last year:

“Right now, there is a lack of uniformity when it comes to how, when, and where the federal government deploys facial recognition technology. I’m proud to introduce legislation with Senator Lee that would set clear rules around federal use of the technology by requiring the government to obtain a probable cause warrant if and when it wants to specifically target and track an American. This bipartisan bill strikes the right balance by making sure law enforcement has the tools necessary to keep us safe while also protecting fundamental Fourth Amendment privacy rights.”

Senator Lee added:

“Facial recognition technology can be a powerful tool for law enforcement officials. But it’s very power also makes it ripe for abuse. That is why American citizens deserve protection from facial recognition abuse. This bill accomplishes that by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before conducting ongoing surveillance of a target.”

Potential abuse of facial recognition technology by government has the potential to stop appropriate commercial uses in their tracks. The legislation proposed by Senators Lee and Coons is a sound, first step in reining in government misuse to ensure the value of facial recognition technology is leveraged and appropriately used to support our economy and its small businesses.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. 





News and Media Releases